Loving Yourself and Aging Well
I missed my blog last week and I don’t know why. I honestly can’t remember. In my defense, I did have two funerals, three meetings, one training session, and a worship service in the last two weeks. So I figure I’m either overworked or I’m in the beginning stages of dementia/Alzheimer’s. It’s interesting that my spell-check tells me I have spelled Alzheimer’s wrong but Google says it’s right. That process, in itself, causes me to believe that if I can navigate spelling Alzheimer’s correctly, I likely don’t have it.
Still, many of us, as we age, wonder if we are not progressing faster than we would like into the world of forgotten words and unrecognizable people who are dear to us now. How do we carry the fears and limitations of aging with grace and even joy? An old commercial for a moisturizer or perfume or maybe makeup, I can’t remember, suggested that the young model selling the product was going to fight “it” (meaning the appearance of age) every step of the way. But is fighting the aging process and all that comes with it, the biblical way through this phase of life?
The late Rev. Jimmy Johnson, a District Superintendent in the Wesleyan Church, and a dynamic youth pastor in his younger years, boldly proclaimed that if we did not love ourselves, it was for two reasons. Either 1) We had a perverted God concept, or 2) We had not yet discovered the beautiful person God made us to be. It could be both. The biblical support he used for his timely message is a command from the Old Testament, quoted in the New. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” If we do not love ourselves, we cannot love our neighbor.
Pastor Johnson’s exhortation and interpretation speak clearly to many issues of our day. Loving ourselves biblically, without the arrogant swagger, means to understand that God, who knew us before we were formed in our mother’s womb, loved us. When we do not love the person God created us to be, we place ourselves in a position higher than God because God loves us. And do we have any right to hate that which God loves?
God continues his creation process through every stage of our lives from birth to death. Aging gracefully recognizes the grace-filled love of Christ in every aspect of our journey. Through aches and pains, wrinkles, and long-term care, God loves us just as much as we near our eternal home as he did the day we were born. To embrace the love of God’s creation in all phases of our life’s journey, is to fully embrace the beautiful person God made us to be. When we do that, we can love our neighbor well, whether we are 19 or 90.
Father, help us to understand that you have made us in your image. Help us to be grateful for who you made us to be. Help us to share the wisdom, love, and grace that becomes available through us to others, only as we age. For your glory, Amen.